Thursday, June 14, 2018

"USE PARANOIA ON DOOR" - Mindsets as items v.1

Mindsets are a very gamist set of rules that act as unique bonuses and modest abilities. They aren't all equal, but some are more difficult to acquire then others. The idea originally stems from a one-on-one PbP dungeon crawl, in which "use paranoia on door" was an extremely viable tactic when alone in the dark. This expanded into the full list of Mindsets below. Backstories, boss fights, out-of-character behaviour, and in-jokes are all viable sources of a Mindset, but only one can be "equipped" at a time.

Each mindset can potentially be lost as well, whether from trauma, out-of-character changes or character actions. Mindsets such as Angry, Hungry and Greedy are relatively simple to acquire, while Righteous, Stalwart or Happy are rather rare traits for a dungeon-diver. To clarify, these mindsets should be treated as loot. If you are into that, use it to reward players for exceptional role-playing or when "here's another random magic item I guess" just doesn't cut it.

  1. Angry – reroll failed initiative check if you immediately charge
  2. Bizarre – On critical successes/failures, very odd things happen
  3. Confidence – +2 to do the first thing you suggest, instead of dallying/planning
  4. Cowardly – +2 Defense while fleeing
  5. Cruel – When you down an enemy, you can force a Morale check. Results may vary.
  6. Curious – 1/session, you find something hidden
  7. Desperate – +1 to everything while at 0 HP
  8. Determined – take +1 against anything opposing your oath
  9. Dramatic – Below HP/2, counts as a helmet
  10. Fated – Once, ever, roll 1d10 instead of 1d20
  11. Flamboyant – +3 retainer slots (normally 3+CHA)
  12. Gallant – people you protect reroll failed saves
  13. Greedy – Know the exact value of anything you hold
  14. Grumpy – Ignore most positive and negative morale effects
  15. Happy – NPCs don't automatically treat you as an "adventurer"
  16. Helpful – Your friends can reroll a d20, once per person
  17. Hungry – +4 to save against anything you ate
  18. Innocent – Anything will hesitate to kill you, at least for a moment
  19. Innovative – +2 to any checks that earned you an XP
  20. Joker – An in-character quip that makes the DM laugh heals 1HP, up to 3/session
  21. Knowledgeable – Learn a new rumor each session
  22. Monstrous – Convert 1d4 Trauma into a mutation over a long rest
  23. Mysterious – Trade this for a different Mindset when you reveal your backstory.
  24. Observant – INT check to ask detailed questions after you've left a scene (flashback style)
  25. Paranoia – receive a warning before you do anything extremely dangerous. No details.
  26. Pompous – Enemies that fail a morale check and would flee/rout (not retreat) instead grovel
  27. Proud – +1 damage at full HP
  28. Righteous – Counts as a shield against anyone philosophically opposed to you
  29. Stalwart – Immune to the Winded condition
  30. Zealous – Your voice counts as a holy symbol

A few examples:

The PC of Mat "The Magnificent" Rench, had a habit of examining doors in a very particular manner for maximum effectiveness, without slowing down actual gameplay too much. His neat thinking skills were rewarded with Paranoia, to great amusement and general utility.

The PC of Frillnecked Wizardbang, (Lizardfolk Wizard) had a frankly startling roleplaying style, and a penchant for collecting 'friends' that belied his 6 Charisma. Naturally, Flamboyant was the only possible outcome.

Gary (the Goblin) had a delightful time picking over the golem-corpses strewn about their path into the Chambers of God, and constructed some quite horrifying devices. As per my promise regarding the Dervish of War lurking in room XX (that the first party to defeat it would earn a Mindset of their choosing) he went for Curious. When sessions resume, I'll be keen to see how and when he uses it.


  1. I like the idea a lot. Would characters start with any of these mechanically recognised mindsets? How much effort would it take to earn one?

    I don't really like offering simply bonuses, so I'm inclined to add some drawback to each, and then make it part of the strategy (in a way, "mood" becomes a resource to manage as well, because certain effects would put you in a different mindset, potentially something that doesn't benefit you at all in your current situation).


    1. When it comes to Mindset rarity, I treat them exactly the same as magic items. Exactly the same. They might be rare, or not exist at all. Some are good, some are just ok. They can be found, lost, or even taken away. If I had all Mindsets available all the time, I would definitely try and balance them that way, but they are fundamentally rewards for playstyle, rather than a dropdown menu.

      I'm considering having a particular class that starts with a random mindset as part of an overall theme, but apart from that, I wouldn't really recommend it. So far I've only given out the three I listed above, but I'm sure I wouldn't diverge too much from that sort of range: a unique and interesting playstyle, some frankly excellent roleplaying, and as a reward for defeating a challenging boss.

      If you do add drawbacks, please don't make them contrasting numerical effects. Read this first - - it explains my position better than I can! In short though, you don't want to turn the choice into a "solved problem" where one option is mathematically better. Make them situational, and make them contrasting.


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